The Empyrean review by John Frusciante

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  • Released: Jan 20, 2009
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.6 (260 votes)
John Frusciante: The Empyrean
2

Sound — 10
Frusciante has publicly stated that this (as many of his albums) was recorded in his home studio... This maybe the only home produced album I have heard where I would swear the drums were recorded in a cathedral like dome and the sound quality of the guitars, bass, and plethora of other instruments did not suffer a touch. The music is full of a certain ambiance and layers of sound, that are truly remarkable and one of a kind. Frusciante really took a conceptual, musical idea, and transformed it into a soundscape of epic proportions. From the space jam feel of "Before the Beginning" to the reversed echo reverb of "Dark/Light" Frusciante embraces every end of the sound spectrum. The tripped out wah solo of "Unreachable", the intense dissonant beauty of the solo in "Enough of Me", the shocking low vocal that dominates "One More of Me", the eery, heartbreaking melancholy of "Song to the Siren", and many more things are what separate this album from anything Frusciante has previously put out. The minimalistic beauty that usually encompasses his music has been put aside, in exchange for an unbelievable layer of rich music to take you from one place to another.

Lyrics — 10
Frusciantes lyrical ability in my mind is completly unrivaled. Frusciante has stated and (in his own Fru-esque way) explained the album to be a concept album with the theme relaying back to a 'rise-fall-rise' cycle, but do not expect it to be as cut and dry as that. As a fan of all his albums (Niandra to present day) I have grown accustomed to his style of writing. I love the obscure metaphors that are often rampant in his songs... but this album differs. Yes, it is still VERY metaphorical, but I was surprised to hear that he has kept this enigmatic way of writing with incorporating such literal ideas into the songs. I really feel that each listener of this album has the ability to find their own story in this album if they really listen to the music. Technically speaking this is hands down Johns greatest vocal effort. He really shines on this album proving he is more than just being backround to Anthony Kiedis. His haunting whisper in "Song to the Siren" are what take the song from being just a cover of a classic to an actual emotional experience for the listener. The shocking depths he sings at during "One More of Me" will have you wonder aloud if that is actually Johns voice. The raw, beautiful rasp of his scream during the chorus' of Central will have your head in a whole new dimension. In short, the vocals on this album are interesting, beatiful, and a sonic experience in themselves.

Overall Impression — 10
I hate when you see sub-par albums getting perfect results from teenage kids 4 days after their release dates. I have had this album for nearly two years, and it amazes me more and more as time goes by. It is one of only a handful I deem to be perfect 10s. Frusciante really opened up an entirely new realm for me with this album. This has become my favorite album with an unwavering authority. IMO there is no comparisons for this album... I see it as one of a kind. An exciting, deep, wonderous piece of art. I love the depths that each song explores. So much of this album I would define as "breathtaking" that I am limiting myself to saying it to much. This album was made with the music in mind. The notes do not just flow from one to the next, but intertwine themselves in each other creating a marriage of the sounds. I have unfortunately gone through a couple copies of this album, and each time I buy another one... no questions asked... I need this album. This album is a companion. It is a work of art that will take you to the true Empyrean of musical innovention and creativity.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    goest
    Base Ics wrote: I've just got this album, and it's awsome. What baffles me is how nobody noticed how 2 of my favorite songs on the album (Enough Of Me and One More Of Me) were written to be played simultaniously... They're cool songs separately, and together it's baffling. The concept of 2 songs that can be combined though still stand separately is awsome! Just makes you wonder how he got the idea xD
    Neurosis does that all the time.
    johnsonjl
    Fell in love with this album ever since the first time I heard it and the love grows and grows with every listen. Great mix of high and low moods and it gives you a sense of strong empathy. Every second of this album is genius, and if you're into actually [I]thinking[/] about music, and considering the meaning behind what's contained within the songs (be it instrumental or lyrically), this is definately the one for you. If you're the kind that just listens for catchy riffs & choruses, then you're looking the wrong direction I'm afraid. Looking to buy this collection on vinyl, truly awesome 10/10.
    johnsonjl
    cena_911 wrote: Hey guys who do you think is a better guitarist John Frusciante or Noel Gallagher?
    Noel's a guitarist, Frusciante's an artist. (Sorry about the old RP. Had to say to say it!) But like many have said it's an opinion.